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Should I stay in contact with my dog’s previous owner?

While it’s great to buy a dog from a breeder or adopt a shelter dog, many of us adopt dogs directly from their previous owners.

I adopted my mutt Ace directly from his previous owner and after our initial conversations and meetings, we did not talk again. We’d talked over the phone several times and met in person twice, but once I officially left her house with Ace, that was that.

Mostly she just wanted to find a new home for that annoying, hyper pup that was adding more stress than he was worth. Sometimes I’ve wanted to contact her again – to ask her to check out my blog, to tell her Ace is a great dog – but I’ve lost her number and can’t remember her name.

If Ace’s previous owner ever does stumble across this blog, I doubt she’d even recognize him. He has a new name and in many ways is a new dog. He has a new life now, not necessarily better but I like to think so. He moved on years ago, and so has she.

Dogs are re-homed all the time. That’s life.

If you want to stay in contact with your dog’s previous owner, you should. If you don’t want to, then don’t. It’s your choice, not the previous owner’s choice.

I won’t adopt a dog from a person who wants to stay involved in the dog’s life. But I’m not referring to breeders. Dog breeders are used to parting with puppies and remaining available for questions about the breed throughout the pup’s life. That’s great. It’s what a good breeder should do. I’m referring to the average family giving up a dog.

I want to raise my dog, train him and socialize him my way. I don’t want someone hovering over me and asking how he’s doing or giving me advice. And I definitely do not want someone stopping in to check on what is supposed to be my dog.

That’s just me.

For other people, staying in touch with the dog’s last owner is no problem.

If you stay in touch with your dog’s old owner, here’s my advice:

Before you adopt the dog, decide with your own family how often you are comfortable interacting with the original owners. How often do you want them to visit you, call you, email you or write you? If you are annoyed with the people and can tell they are going to be clingy just by talking over the phone, then consider another dog.

If you don’t live in the same state or town, it will be easier. If you live closer, then it’s even more important to know what you are comfortable with. If you live in a medium-sized town like Fargo and they live in a small town, keep in mind they might want to stop in and see their dog every time they make a weekend trip to “the city.” But you have every right to say you do not want to continue a relationship.

Be prepared if the family decides they want to keep the dog after all.

This happens a lot. Sometimes family members know it’s best to part with their dog, but they feel guilty and just can’t do it. They change their minds at the last minute. Because of this possibility, don’t become too attached to a dog before you even bring him home. There are thousands of homeless dogs out there – several would be a good match for your family.

Once you have agreed to adopt the dog, tell the previous owners to always call before they visit. This will prevent unannounced drop-ins. Believe me, people can get very attached to and weird about their pets even after re-homing them. I’d get pretty annoyed if people started showing up every weekend.

Dogs can adapt well to a new environment.

As for the dog being re-homed with you, he will adjust just fine. I guarantee it. I adopted my mutt Ace when he was a year old. The best thing I did for him and his adjustment period was to walk him for an hour right when I brought him home. This helped him get rid of pent-up energy, and we started the bonding process right away.

Once you get your new dog home, start enforcing rules and training immediately. Continue walking him every day for a good half-hour or longer. Don’t be lenient because you feel bad for him about missing his old family. He will adapt much quicker if you don’t feel sorry for him.

It would be best if he could go a month before his old family visits, just so he can get used to your family and your routine and feel comfortable with you. Once a month or so has passed and things are going well, there’s nothing wrong with the previous owners visiting as long as you are OK with it. The dog would probably think it’s great! All his favorite people in one spot!

Remember, they are the ones who gave up the dog in the first place.

It’s their loss, their mistake. It’s your dog now, not theirs. If all you want is to send them a card or an email once a year, then that’s your choice. I recommend doing that at least once. It would be nice for them to know the dog is in good hands and loved. People have to give up dogs for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the dog anymore. Seeing that their dog is happy in his new home would help give the previous family some closure. It’s also a great way to show off how well you and the dog are doing.

Do you have a “hand-me-down” dog? Do you keep in contact with his previous owner?

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